Interlink Cloud Blog
Eric Inch

"Stay Out Unless I Say So!" - The Sweetness of Azure AD Conditional Access

"Stay Out Unless I Say So!" - The Sweetness of Azure AD Conditional Access

I talk to a lot of customers using Office 365 that would like to have granular control on who can access the hosted services and only allow access to these services from corporate owned and managed devices. Enter Azure AD Conditional Access. “Keep out.. Unless of course you meet certain conditions!”

For example, with Azure AD device access rules you can restrict access to Exchange Online to only domain joined machines.

“Wait?! What?! That sounds just like what I’m looking to do.

What does that look like?”

 

When a user attempts to access Outlook Web App from a personal computer, they go to the OWA URL and enter their username and password.


The conditional access policy will look to verify that the device being used to access OWA is domain joined and registered in Azure AD. Since the computer is a personal computer, the user is denied access.


After closer examination using the “More details” link, you can see the access rules set require the device to be domain joined for access. In the scenario of personal computers, this will show as Unregistered.

Your access to corporate resources was swatted away like Dikembe Mutumbo. “Not in my house!”

“Good Eric, that’s all great but how about the full Outlook client? I would really like to see what options we have to prevent our users from connecting their personal Outlook client to our corporate email.”


When a user attempts to connect the Outlook client on a non-domain machine, the Outlook client will open and prompt the user for authentication.


The user will enter their username and password and the authentication process will look for a registered device.


Once again the user will be gently reminded that they need to be on a corporate owned device.

“Wow Eric, I’m really impressed by Conditional Access and the device access restrictions available in the Microsoft security suite. Anything else we should know? What about users that want to access OWA from other browsers?”

 

First and foremost, under no circumstance should you ever use anything other than Microsoft technology. Ever!

But, in the event some of your users want to go against my recommendation, to access corporate resources protected with device access rules they would need to use a supported browser. Conditional access support for applications: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/active-directory-conditional-access-supported-apps/


The behavior when attempting Outlook Web App using the Google Chrome browser would be as follows:

The user enters their username and password from a non-domain machine.

Since the user is trying to use a browser that doesn’t support conditional access, it gives the user a warning that the browser is not supported and to use Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer.

The device based access rules are configured within Azure AD Premium and have the following options.

  • Enable Access Rules – On or Off. (self-explanatory)
  • Apply To – Specific groups that you want to scope the access rules to. You also have the ability to except specific users from the scope.
  • Device Rules – The access rules you want to enforce for access to the corporate resources.
  • Application Enforcement – “For browser and native applications” OR “For only native applications” Exchange ActiveSync – Require a compliant device to access email

For more information on Azure AD Conditional access, please read the official Microsoft blog article AzureAD Conditional Access Policies for iOS, Android and Windows are in Preview!

 

Matt Scherocman

Microsoft EMS Case Study: Interlink Sets G&J Pepsi Free to Innovate, Collaborate and Grow

Microsoft EMS Case Study: Interlink Sets G&J Pepsi Free to Innovate, Collaborate and Grow

G&J Pepsi Cola is the largest family-owned and operated Pepsi franchise bottler in the United States. Over 1,000 of their 1,600 employees are made up of deskless workers, including drivers, salespeople, and merchandisers. Not yet utilizing mobile devices, this sizable workforce did their job based on paper marching orders each morning. Over time, these paper instructions became hefty books that field people lugged around and rummaged for information.

hybrid Use Benefit quoteRealizing the need for change, G&J transitioned from paper to electronic documents and outfitted its deskless workforce with Android smartphones. The move created hundreds of new, unsecure and unoptimized mobile endpoints.

hybrid Use Benefit case study

Here’s just a couple of ways Interlink used the full value of Microsoft enterprise cloud products to meet G&J’s business challenge.

  • Secured the Digital Link with Microsoft EMS
    Using Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), Interlink quickly secured 1,200 smartphones and tablets.

    With the mobile devices secure, G&J corporate offices, distribution centers, and field employees can now communicate and collaborate without having to worry about endpoint security. Management is free to share sensitive data in real time with other business units, decreasing data availability downtime while increasing efficiency of response to changes in operations.
  • Extended Microsoft EMS with Azure Active Directory Premium
    G&J uses several different applications across their IT infrastructure, all deployed with the challenge of needing to be secure and easily accessible. Using Azure Active Directory Premium, Interlink streamlined the management of these applications and improved the secure accessibility of multiple applications.

    By using a cloud-based single-sign-on (SSO), G&J consolidates application management and usage into one simple process. IT no longer needs to spend time and resources configuring multiple sets of credentials, and field employees never need to be concerned about not having access to their suite of third-party applications.

Read the full case study and see how Interlink met G&J Pepsi’s business mobility challenges with Interlink and Microsoft EMS.

hybrid Use Benefit case study

Contact us to show you how we can improve your collaboration, security, and mobility with Microsoft EMS too.  

Matt Scherocman

Free Windows Licensing for Azure: How to Get It with Windows Hybrid Use Benefit

Free Windows Licensing for Azure: How to Get It with Windows Hybrid Use Benefit

What is Windows Hybrid Use Benefit?

Microsoft has a relatively unknown benefit called Hybrid Use Benefit (HUB). If you already own Windows Servers with Software Assurance, you can use it to run workloads in Azure on Windows without paying for Windows in Azure. For those that license Windows Servers utilizing the Data Center version, you can continue to use that Windows Server to run on-premises workloads, as well as different workloads in Azure with the same license. This allows you to double the functionality of each Windows Server Data Center license! 

A few important facts:

  • Both versions of Windows Server - Standard and Datacenter -  license with Software Assurance are eligible for the Hybrid Use Benefit

    Hybrid Use Benefit entitlements

  • A Windows Server Standard Edition license cannot be used simultaneously in on-premises deployments while utilizing Hybrid Use Benefit in Azure
  • Windows Server Datacenter licenses can utilize the Hybrid Use Benefit and continue to be deployed in parallel on-premises
  • All uses of HUB must be done by importing a customer’s image file into Azure

For Azure deployments of HUB, each eligible license has an entitlement to run Windows Server VM’s at the lower non-Windows VM rates. Through leveraging HUB, some deployments in Azure can offer end-customers a savings up to 50%.  

Hybrid Use Benefit Sample - Full Time

Example scenario with customer running two D2v2 VMs using the Hybrid Use Benefit.

Hybrid Use Benefit savings sample

*EA Level D in USD, US East 2; full-time usage on demand
**Second Azure instance is included with Windows Server Standard Edition Software Assurance, EA level A

If you want to learn more about how Azure has leveraged this benefit, please follow these links:

We look forward to explaining more about this benefit, and how it can save you money with your existing investments in Microsoft infrastructure.  Contact Interlink today!  

Mike Wilson

Archiving Data in Azure Just Got Way More Affordable with Azure Blob Storage

Archiving Data in Azure Just Got Way More Affordable with Azure Blob Storage

Azure Blob storage, which is the ability for Azure to store all your unstructured data, now has an offer which provides a low cost to store archival and less used information. The cost of the first 100 Terabytes for local redundant storage is only 1 penny per month. Holy cow!   

Azure Blob storage is divided into two tiers - hot and cold.


Hot Tier

The hot tier stores the data you access and rely on the most. Hot storage has a higher storage cost but much lower access and transactional costs.

Cold Tier

The cold storage tier is the opposite: data you don’t access frequently that costs less to store but more to access. Azure Blob also gives you complete control over your data needs and storage priorities, allowing you to change your blobs of data from hot to cold (and vice versa) all within your Azure environment.

The best thing about Blob Storage in Azure is that the temperature of your data doesn’t impact access performance. There’s an insignificant difference (milliseconds) between data performance on hot and cold tiers. So, when you find yourself in a situation where cold data has suddenly become hot, you won’t face any delay in accessing the cold data like Azure’s major competitor. And like everything in Azure, the security, scalability, and durability of data operations doesn’t change between data temperatures.

With Azure Blob Storage, the focus is on optimizing your data, not the processes required to use the data effectively.

The business case for Azure Cloud Storage is strong.

infographic Microsoft Azure Datcenter Planning

Want more?

Below is a short video - Get started with Azure Storage that coveres how to get started using Azure Storage services including blobs, tables, files, and queues from Windows and Linux.

Click Here to learn more about the costs around Azure Hot and Cool Storage and contact us for the best advice on how to build your workloads in Azure including setting up new blobs.

Matt Scherocman

How Does Archiving in Office 365 Work?

Immutability is the industry-standard term for “preserving data in the system so that it is discoverable, and cannot be destroyed or altered."

With Exchange Server 2016, and Exchange Online, Microsoft enables organizations to preserve individual or all mailbox items for discovery natively, keeping those items within the Exchange infrastructure. This approach is called, In-Place hold.

One significant benefit of hold as opposed to separate, read-only storage is that items are preserved within the Exchange infrastructure, preserving more of the information including metadata and making management easier for IT admins. Users benefit because they can manage their mailboxes using the familiar Outlook interfaces. From an IT-perspective, In-Place Hold eliminates the necessity and complexity of maintaining a separate infrastructure and potentially storage for Exchange items.

Exchange gives organizations the flexibility to choose the architecture that can help meet their immutability requirements whether that is on-premises, online, or a hybrid of both, and supports the ability to store archived items in a separate physical location.

In Exchange Online, you can use In-Place Hold or Litigation Hold to accomplish the following goals:

  • Enable users to be placed on hold and preserve mailbox items immutably
  • Preserve mailbox items deleted by users or automatic deletion processes such as MRM
  • Protect mailbox items from tampering, changes by a user, or automatic processes by saving a copy of the original item
  • Preserve items indefinitely or for a specific duration
  • Keep holds transparent from the user by not having to suspend MRM
  • Use In-Place eDiscovery to search mailbox items, including items placed on hold

Additionally, you can use In-Place Hold to:

  • Search and hold items matching specified criteria
  • Place a user on multiple In-Place Holds for different cases or investigations

How does Litigation Hold work?

In the normal deleted item workflow, a mailbox item is moved to the Deletions subfolder in the Recoverable Items folder when a user permanently deletes it (Shift + Delete) or deletes it from the Deleted Items folder. A deletion policy (which is a retention tag configured with a Delete retention action) also moves items to the Deletions subfolder when the retention period expires. When a user purges an item in the Recoverable Items folder or when the deleted item retention period expires for an item, it's moved to the Purges subfolder in the Recoverable Items folder and marked for permanent deletion. It will be purged from Exchange the next time the mailbox is processed by the Managed Folder Assistant (MFA).

When a mailbox is placed on Litigation Hold, items in the Purges subfolder are preserved for the hold duration specified by the Litigation Hold. The hold duration is calculated from the original date an item was received or created, and defines how long items in the Purges subfolder are held. When the hold duration expires for an item in the Purges subfolder, the item is marked for permanent deletion and will be purged from Exchange the next time the mailbox is processed by the MFA. If an indefinite hold is placed on a mailbox, items will never be purged from the Purges subfolder.

The following illustration shows the subfolders in the Recoverable Items folders and the hold workflow process.

Archiving in Office 365

See this technet article for additional information, or you can view the general sales site from Microsoft here.

Contact Interlink today for help in defining your needs, which licensing options would be the best fit, and actually getting the service configured correctly to ensure the right data is being kept and deleted.  

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations or warranties regarding the information from our partners or other external sources.

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